Hunting MacGuffins

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No actual reviews this week. Instead, I continue to search for a MacGuffin.

Of course, there is much to read on the Crop Duster. Top Ten lists. Longer pieces on films by great directors. Buncha links to TV and radio stories. And have you browsed through the vortex that is What a Feeling!, a cache of reviews of 1980s films?

Back next week, with news of lions in the Highlands.

Movie Diary 5/27/2015

Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks, 1939). Everything is superbly in place in Hawks’s paradise of risk-taking mail pilots who navigate both South American mountain passes and the behavioral rules for determining who’s good and who isn’t. Seeing it on a screen in a digital restoration (at Edinburgh Filmhouse) brings out all the dense detail of this world – man, every scene is filled with background color and bric-a-brac. And of course Cary Grant and Jean Arthur and a fantastic supporting cast. None of them has aged a bit.

Name of Reality (This Week’s Movies)

Adele Haenel, Guillaume Canet: In the Name of My Daughter

Adele Haenel, Guillaume Canet: In the Name of My Daughter

Links to my reviews published in the Herald and Seattle Weekly and etc.

In the Name of My Daughter (André Téchiné, 2014). “Feels designed to smother breathless melodrama.” (In case of Herald paywall, Weekly version here.)

Réalité (Quentin Dupieux, 2014). “Commits so fully to his brand of reality-bending.” (Weekly version here.)

At the Overlook Podcast, Steve Scher and I talk about David Letterman. I could’ve gone on much longer, but I think we come up with some good ones when we get rolling; listen here. Also, they pelted us with rocks and garbage.

Movie Diary 5/20/2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015). I kind of wish I hadn’t read headlines and tweets and etc. calling this movie the greatest action thingie or whatever of our lifetime, because it would’ve been easier to enjoy it without wondering what all that was supposed to be about. Still, it’s fun. Would love to have been a fly on the wall when George Miller was describing his conception of the role to Tom Hardy. Because it’s certainly odd. Also couldn’t help thinking while watching the cavalcade of violent cretins and unfettered mayhem that this does look a lot like civilization just now.

In the Name of My Daughter (André Téchiné, 2014). A true-crime mystery gets a wily and elliptical treatment from this canny filmmaker. Good cast led by C. Deneuve, and a refreshing refusal to deal in heavy-breathing cheese a la the Serial podcast. (full review 5/22)

Realité (Quentin Dupieux, 2014). At some point Dupieux has to aim higher and make a real movie, but for right now his surreal doo-dads continue to amuse. This one slants off a movie satire through-line, but is much more about dreams and bogusness. (full review 5/22)

Festival Animals (This Week’s Movies)

Cave of the Silken Web, a 1973 SIFF revival.

Cave of the Silken Web, a 1973 SIFF revival.

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Animals. “Crummy details that lend authenticity.” (Weekly version here.)

And a preview “this is what I’m looking forward to seeing” (not what I’ve actually seen) thingie. Seattle Weekly version here.

Movie Diary 5/13/2015

Jump (Tadeusz Konwicki, 1965). A man leaps off a moving train and stumbles into a village, claiming to have stayed there during the war. He says he’s being chased by somebody. A series of surreal and symbolic things happen, and at the climax the community comes together at the town hall and dances. With very little narrative momentum, this movie can be compelling and tiresome by turns, but its odd mood – conjuring up a variation on Last Year at Marienbad and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – is eerie. Everything that happens is underscored by a strangled desperation, a kind of fury trying to break out – it’s a film that could only have been made in an occupied country. And it makes all the difference that the man is played by Zbigniew Cybulski, who is perpetually called “the Polish James Dean,” although he comes across more like Mastroianni here, busy, bewildered, graceful. You know how there are movies that may or may not be your thing, but you gotta see them because of a single performance? Yeah, this is one of those. Two years later, Cybulski died at 39, jumping onto a train. (Seen at Edinburgh Filmhouse as part of the Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema series.)

Movie Diary 5/12/2015

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, 2014). The director’s previous film was a masterpiece – You, the Living, from 2007 – and it would be hard to hit that sustained pitch again. This one doesn’t, but it has much to recommend, including the world’s most morose novelty-item salesmen. As Andersson is never shy about suggesting, they have plenty to be morose about. (full review 7/?)

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